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Geneva shaken by the end of banking secrecy

The first automatic exchange of bank data with foreign tax authorities is scheduled for this month of September.

On the surface nothing has changed in Geneva. Lake Geneva still attracts businessmen from all over the world. Private banks, run for several generations by the “patrician families” of the canton, always place the fortunes of families and multimillionaire entrepreneurs. The banking secrecy, enshrined in the law since 1934, and which made the fame of the Swiss financial center, has definitely fallen. Despite the loss of what they modestly called a “competitive advantage,” wealth managers have not been swept by the wind of history.


After ten years of weakness, the billions under management (private and institutional clients) in Swiss banks reached a new peak in 2017, higher than that recorded in 2007, on the eve of the financial crisis. They exceeded 7 290 billion Swiss francs (6,452 billion euros), an increase of nearly 10% compared to the end of 2016, according to the statistics of the Swiss National Bank.

Especially with more than 2,200 billion Swiss francs of assets under management belonging to large foreign fortunes, Switzerland, yet dispossessed of its tax secrecy, remains the world leader in cross-border wealth management, with a market share of 27.5%.

“We bring added value”

At Mirabaud, a venerable private bank founded in Geneva in 1819, the resistance of Swiss banks was “not a surprise”. In a salon with carmine walls embellished with contemporary paintings, Yves Mirabaud, senior managing partner, and also president of the Geneva Financial Center Foundation, has a strong voice when it comes to defending the sector’s honor. “It has always been said that customers are not here just to hide their money and not declare it at home. Few people believed us. Today figures show it, he argues. It is rather pleasant, we are not …

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